FRANCE: The first automatic trains to operate in revenue service on Paris metro Line 1 were officially launched on November 3 by RATP Chairman & CEO Pierre Mongin, at an event attended by Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport & Housing Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, and Jean-Paul Huchon, President of the Ile-de-France Regional Council.

The event marks a key milestone in the €600m programme to automate the 17 km Line 1, which is the oldest and busiest metro line in Paris, carrying around 725 000 passengers per day. It follows completion of work to install 954 half-height platform screen doors at all 25 stations along the route, together with new communications systems and CCTV.

Line 1 has been equipped with Siemens’ Trainguard MT CBTC under a contract awarded in November 2005. This will allow trains to operate at 85 sec headways, compared with the 105 sec limit with the older signalling, enabling RATP to adjust train frequency more flexibly to serve any sudden peaks in ridership.

Parallelling the phased changeover in Nürnberg, where automatic and manual trains operated on the common section of Lines U2 and U3 for several years, RATP expects to operate a mix of automatic and manual trains on Line 1 until December 2012. It says the displaced drivers will be able to move to other lines or retrain and transfer to other duties.

The operator is taking delivery of 53 MP05 six-car trainsets from Alstom, which will be phased into service over the next year, displacing the current MP89 stock to Line 4. An initial build of 49 sets was ordered in 2005 under a €474m contract with options for a further 10, of which four were ordered in May 2009 for €50m. Eight trains are now available for service, and the remainder are expected to enter traffic at the rate of two per month.